In celebration of the 2023 Year of Youth, the NYA was invited by the Commonwealth Secretariat to host the 2023 Commonwealth Youth Work Conference. Entitled The Power of Youth Work: Forging a sustainable and peaceful common future, the event was delivered both in the real world, at the University of Reading, by invitation and virtually, from 10 – 12 July 2023

Watch back some of the conversations and interviews here

Watch some of the broader highlights here

The event brought together youth workers, academics, and policy makers from across the 56 Commonwealth countries to celebrate youth work, share best practice and learn from one another. The NYA is delighted to have organised this conference on behalf of the United Kingdom government in partnership with our national partners from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  

Together we can create a Commonwealth where no young person is left behind, where every dream is nurtured, where opportunities are open to all” – Stuart Andrew MP

Practitioners working within the youth work sector who attended the Conference were inspired, equipped and empowered to continue their vital work with young people to building a better, more peaceful world.  

A key aim of the Conference was to influence decision makers to appreciate the essential role of youth work across the Commonwealth. 

Watch the Conference online

Virtual attendance was free, and you can watch back the majority of sessions including keynote presentations and breakout sessions on demand.

The Conference Themes 

The Conference was focused on five themes:  

1. Celebration and promotion of Youth Work 

The diversity of youth work across the globe is its richness. 

This theme will showcase best practice and highlight exciting new approaches from across the Commonwealth that demonstrate the needs of young people, a variety of approaches and the difference they are making. 

2. Collaboration, locally, nationally and internationally 

We have strength through partnerships, pulling together our knowledge of young lives, youth work and our practice expertise. 

This theme explores the purpose, nature, challenges and benefits of working collaboratively. It will posit ways we can work together, more effectively, across the sector, as well as with allied professionals. 

3. Collectivism and solidarity across geographies 

Supporting young people in their desire to be active citizens locally, nationally, and globally. 

This theme will consider collective advocacy and policy across the Commonwealth to enable youth work to thrive. It will take into account different cultural, economic and spatial lenses, as well as indigenous and collective world views.  

4. Youth Work’s role in the encouragement and development of peace 

Providing a “safe space” and enabling young people to find their place, purpose and voice are key concepts in youth work. 

This theme will explore the role that youth work can play in easing conflict and embedding peace. It will create opportunities to embed dialogues around social justice (including racial justice, economic inequalities, gender and inclusion) and its connections to peace. 

5. Development of appropriate training support and opportunities for learning 

A robust, powerful youth work sector calls for training and workforce development to sustain it. 

Youth work is inclusive and is underpinned globally by a rich workforce of professionals and volunteers. Building a skilled and qualified workforce involves partnerships with the voluntary sector, universities and professional bodies and others to raise standards across the whole sector.

Keynote Speakers

Keynote speakers celebrated and shared the diversity of youth work innovation from around the globe. Speakers included: 

Professor Momodou Sallah

Contexts and challenges for youth work around the world

Miriam Teuma

Supervision – A tool to strengthen the quality of Youth Services

Yahye Abdi

Exploring the power of youth and community work with young people to influence and shape change locally and nationally.

Blogs and articles

Leigh Middleton

CEO, National Youth Agency

Abbee McLatchie

Director of Youth Work, National Youth Agency


Head of Workforce and Prof Development

Breakout sessions and networking  

There were a variety of stimulating breakout sessions in a range of formats. These encouraged participants to explore the aims and themes of the Conference and lead to clear recommendations for action. 

Delegate pack and information

Read our media consent statement

Photography and video recording at the conference

All those attending the Commonwealth Conference are advised that photographs, videos, and/or recordings may be taken by the National Youth Agency or its authorised representatives. By attending the event, you grant the National Youth Agency and its affiliates the irrevocable and unrestricted right to use, reproduce, publish, and distribute these photographs, videos, and/or recordings for promotional and marketing purposes. This includes, but is not limited to, use on websites, social media, advertisements, brochures, and other promotional materials.

Release of Liability: You release National Youth Agency, its officers, directors, employees, volunteers, contractors, and representatives from any claims, damages, or liability arising out of the use, reuse, publication, or distribution of the photographs, videos, and/or recordings, including any claims for defamation, invasion of privacy, or infringement of any intellectual property rights.

Waiver of Compensation: You acknowledge that you will not receive any financial compensation or royalties in connection with the use of the photographs, videos, and/or recordings.

Right to Refuse: National Youth Agency reserves the right to refuse to photograph, video-record, or include any individual or group in the event materials for any reason, without providing justification or explanation.

Assumption of Risk: You understand and accept that participating in the event involves certain inherent risks. You voluntarily assume all risks associated with attending the event, including but not limited to any risks related to the use of photographs, videos, and/or recordings.

Privacy Protection: National Youth Agency will make reasonable efforts to protect your privacy and will not sell or disclose your personal information to third parties without your consent, except as required by law or for the purposes outlined in this disclaimer.

Severability: If any provision of this disclaimer is found to be invalid or unenforceable, the remaining provisions shall remain in full force and effect.

By attending the event, you acknowledge that you have read, understood, and agree to be bound by this Photo Event Disclaimer.

Conference content disclaimer

The 4th Commonwealth Conference on Youth Work has been convened by the National Youth Agency on behalf of the Commonwealth Secretariat. The event aims to provide an open forum for the sharing of a wide range of theories and practical approaches to youth work. The opinions expressed during presentations and in breakout sessions are solely those of the individual speakers and delegates, and may not be endorsed by the National Youth Agency or its employees. The National Youth Agency cannot be held responsible for any false facts, errors and controversial opinions expressed at the conference.   

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